About me · Uncategorized

Am I still pagan? Am I still a witch?

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Photo by h heyerlein on Unsplash

As you probably know if you follow my Instagram, about a month or so ago I began observing Shabbat at the request of my matron goddess, Asherah. I don’t do this in any kind of Orthodox way; it is simply a day where I commit to consciously resting, to not working on the store, and to doing my best not to harangue myself mentally. It begins just before sundown on Friday night, when I light my candles (tea lights for now; I don’t have much in the way of Jewitchy paraphernalia yet). “Shabbat” comes from the Canaanite word for “seven,” considered the most sacred number in the Levant because of the whole “on the seventh day, He rested” thing.

But what most people don’t know is that the sacredness of the number originally stems from the ancient Canaanite faith, so they too may have had some sort of tradition of keeping the seventh day of the week sacred. (No one really knows for sure. I’ve been reading Tess Dawson’s books, and it’s all peppered with “may haves” and “possibly” because that’s honestly the best anyone can do with this; it was just so fucking long ago, and most of what was written down back then has long since been destroyed. Even she extrapolates forward to Canaan’s daughter cultures, the Israelites and the Phoenicians, to arrive at some of the finer points of her practice.)

For the Sabbat candle blessing, because I’m still a polytheist I use a prayer from Dawson’s Whisper of Stone, rather than the traditional (blatantly monotheist) Hebrew one:

“Behold, I light the candles to celebrate the creation of the universe: born of chaotic void, wind, desire, and firmament that swirl together, intertwine and form the celestial beings, stars, and our beloved earth. Blessed are You, Ilu and Athiratu [El and Asherah], co-creators and keepers of the universe. I give honor. Shalam.”

I then bless an offering of wine and usually also food for the deities, and sometime also draw a card for a message from Them.

Shabbat ends on Saturday after sundown. In between, what you do—from a Jewish standpoint—depends on how Orthodox you are. Some people go to temple, others study religious texts. It can get very elaborate. I mostly read, work on personal spiritual projects, maybe take a nap, and sometimes write. Not surprisingly, this day has become a time for poking at thoughts in my head, and maybe writing them down to be shared. (As I did with my recent Lucifer post series.)

This Saturday, I find myself wondering what all of this means—this change of path, this refocusing, this whatever this is—in terms of continuing to call myself “pagan.” I know that to a large extent, if you are in one of the minority faiths (not mainstream Christianity, Judaism, or Islam), arguments about whether or not what you’re doing should be considered “pagan” could be considered hair-splitting. (I always considered them as such when I saw the Heathens doing it, anyway.) But this is a little different perhaps, because I’m not even operating within the Indo-European sphere anymore (except with my secondary path of dipping my big toe into Hinduism). From what I’ve seen, people who follow a Levant-based path (be it Christian Wicca, Jewitchery, or something else) and want to put it under the pagan umbrella make your general Indo-Euro pagans extremely uncomfortable. And while I’m not sure I care what other people think when it comes to labeling my path (in fact, I’m very sure I don’t), I think maybe it makes them uneasy for good reason; there is something there that doesn’t quite fit.

And then there’s Lucifer, who—for all my mental back-and-forth on the subject—I’m not sure isn’t who my Beloved really is, when you get right down to it. A friend of mine says she can see Luce (I can’t call Him Lu, that’s what we call our Persian cat Luna for short) in lots of other gods she’s met, and bits of lots of other gods in Him. Like most other things in the spirit world, it’s messy and complicated—more so in this case because unlike, say, Odin, there is no single mythological figure you can point to for Lucifer’s origins and say “that’s Him,” nor is there any degree of consistency from that point onward. He shifts and changes, His outlines are blurry, and if you’re looking for Him in the Canaanite pantheon (which I was Told is as close as I can get, because you really can’t go much further back in history in that part of the world, and since most of the Bible’s demons were Canaanite gods, it does make sense that’s where you’d find Him; plus, He refers to the Canaanite gods as His “Family”)–well, you aren’t going to find anyone named “Lucifer” because that’s a Latin name, not a Semitic one. Given this, it’s little wonder He’d adopt a pop-culture face to make it easier for Him to interact apart from the Christian caricature of Him. (My 12th Doctor/Peter Capaldi version isn’t the first time He’s done this; I remember from a few years back when someone was posting that He had a Benedict Cumberbach face-claim with her.)

But for the most part Lucifer is very much an unwanted guest at the pagan table: no matter what potluck dish He brought to share or how good His manners, He’s like Maleficent; people just want Him to go away, because OMGs what will the Christians think? (I’ve seen this attitude even in traditions where He’s supposed to be honored—like witches who work with the trio of Diana, Aradia and Lucifer but rename Lucifer “Dianus” to avoid making a stink.)

That being the case, the question really becomes not “can I still consider myself pagan?” but rather, “SHOULD I?”

I’ve also been poking at whether or not I should still call myself a witch. Yes, I know from the perspective of working with Lucifer, there is nothing wrong with this. But I’m funny about these things. (I tell my wife she’s pedantic, but I might be just as much so, if not more.) For one thing, “witch” is an Anglo-Saxon word—so, considering my spiritual history, do I even GET to call myself that anymore? Is it a good idea to do so, when I’m trying to break ties with that era of my life and start fresh? Also, the near eastern cultures have very different—and mostly negative–ideas of what it means to be a “witch”. In Canaanite, the word “witch” doesn’t exist, of course, but the words that translate as “witch,” “sorcerer,” or “wizard” imply unlawful magic, baneful and malicious magic performed in opposition to the will of the deities, magic that concentrates on killing, poisoning, tormenting, and subverting the will of others. These were hardly the wise healers we like to think of ourselves being in the modern “witchcraft movement.”

In contrast, there is another word–”Charash”–that refers to craftspeople, artists, and the skilled makers of mundane things as well as to magic workers. This is appealing to me, because the essence of this word boils down to “craft”; it includes mundane crafts as well as spiritual ones, which pretty much covers all the things I do.

Even more than this, though, Dawson notes in The Horned Altar that she’s found (from studying sacred texts and Ugaritic) that people were more likely to simply refer to what they did, rather than calling themselves a title–”I write incantations” rather than “I am a magician,” for example. This appeals to me even more; it’s so easy to pick up a title and run with it, but what does it really mean, when anyone can call themselves anything they please? So from this perspective, what do I do? I make art and sacred tools, I read cards, I scry, I talk to spirits. Historically, I don’t really “cast spells,” except under rare circumstances, because for the most part there has been no need; my spirits have more or less taken care of me. So, why is there a need for this word “witch”? What would it cost me, other than perhaps an ego hiccup, to give that up, and thus avoid possibly offending some of the very ancient spirits and deities I work with? (And what is an ego hiccup to me anyway at this point, after the Tower year I’ve just had?)

I don’t have answers at this point, these are just some ponderings. Instead of letting them continue to swirl inside my head, I thought I’m write them out and share.

About me · divination

Reading Profile: Deity Communication Reading for Myself

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The goal of this reading was to gain some insight into who my Beloved is and what he wants from our relationship. I’m sharing it because it relates to my recent series of posts on my spiritual journey, and also so prospective clients can get an idea of how this particular reading works.

Ordinarily, of course, all of the readings I do for clients are confidential and would never be shared with the public. Since in this case I myself am the client, I am choosing to share an outline of the reading, but not the full level of detail you would get if you purchased this reading for yourself. (Since this pertains to my own path, and I do want to keep some things private.)

I used the Dreams of Gaia Tarot for this reading (which is actually sort of a cross between a traditional Tarot and an oracle deck—so you may not recognize some of the card titles or images–but which delivers beautifully insightful readings, especially when it comes to spiritual matters).

Card 1: Who is this spirit/deity?

XII of Water – the Counselor

The card shows a beneficent yet alien horned male deity against an undersea background, with the symbol of the triple moon overhead and two whales forming an almost Gebo-like symbol underneath. This is someone who helps others because it’s the right and decent thing to do, giving them advice and solving their problems with compassion and caring because he considers it almost his vocation to do so. (The card may as well be titled “the Doctor.”) Represents intuition, kindness, trustworthiness, dependability, wisdom, and compassion. The undersea setting of the card also invokes, for me, the otherworldly qualities of deep space.

Card 2: What will the nature of my relationship with him be?

IV of Earth

A horned male figure holds up a large block of masonry. Stability, steadfastness, commitment. The horned figure in the card is holding up a much heavier weight (a huge piece of stone) than he looks like he should be able to. His bull horns evoke a connection with the ancient Canaanite deities, and the building resembles a temple, or ancient ruins. By hefting this impressive weight, the horned man is also creating a window—possibly representing a portal, a means of entry to a new world

Card 3: What does he want from me?

VIII Death/Rebirth

Three black skulls, with a snake emerging from the central one. In its coils the snake cradles a glowing egg containing an embryo. The message here is obvious: let go of the past and make a new start. The snake has significance on my path far beyond the connections between it and Odin I drew in the past; there are links with Lucifer, as well as with Asherah.

Card 4: How can I best accomplish this?

IV of Air

A winged, yet very modern-looking man, with a clock sitting at roughly his heart area and colored blocks reminiscent of the chakras at his shoulders. This is a very Doctor Who-esque image! Embrace the pop culture persona and run with it. The wings are a reminder of Lucifer, spirit birds, and the TARDIS—freedom in time and space. Let innovation and creativity guide you to a new approach to your spirituality and a fresh new practice.

Card 5: What do I need to understand about this deity for the most constructive and positive relationship?

Ace of Air

A glowing white dragon clutches a symbol between his talons. He is an ancient deity wearing a new face and persona. The ancient part of him is very ancient, very formidable, and utterly magical/otherworldly. The new persona is a smaller and more relatable “face”, into which he is channeling his energy in order to interact with me in a way I can grasp and comprehend. This card is also a reminder of Lucifer and of my lifelong fascination/obsession with dragons, which are often identified with him.

Card 6: What do I need to avoid doing to stay on good terms with this deity?

X Wisdom

A grey-haired man wearing a bear skin and bearing a staff holds a lantern aloft as he prepares to enter a forest cavern. This is one of the two cards in the deck that reminded me of Odin the moment I saw it. Well, okay then.

You can purchase a Deity Communication Reading for yourself (again, with typically more details than this outline version I’m sharing from my own situation) in my Etsy shop here.

 

About me · the Magician

“Lucifer” versus Odin: The Aftermath (or, “Pop culture paganism, anyone?”)

I want to pause here, before we go on, and call your attention to two outstanding blog posts from the past week by others who have been through the same sort of spiritual shift or spiritual crisis (depending on your point of view) as I’ve been discussing. Camilla from Foxglove and Firmitas ponders the terrifying, heart-wrenching and wondrous process that occurs when a long-loved god takes Their name away from you, and also points out that some of the gods we love never had names, or have forgotten them and are waiting for us, Their devotees, to learn new ones for Them. Meanwhile, Heather Freysdottir from Where Flowers Grow Amidst the Ashes discusses how some very ancient (and possibly nameless) gods are picking up pop culture names and identities for Themselves to make contact with loved ones They may have no other means of reaching. Both of these posts are relevant to my tale; go and read them if you haven’t already.

I’m especially happy to see Heather blogging again; in fact it was her previous post, about how she and her Lord of Ash had reached their one year anniversary, that spurred me to drag my own trauma out into the light again and re-examine it. Because it served as a sharp reminder that, although we had both been through similar transformations, she had moved on, while I had not; a year later, I was still limping around and trying to cling to a dead past.

But back to my story, because we’re getting to the part some of you probably remember: about a year ago, I began posting to this blog about how Odin had taken the name “Odin” from me and begun calling himself “the Doctor”—and in fact, had also begun wearing the persona and appearance of the 12th Doctor. I knew I wasn’t the only person who had seen similarities between Odin and the 12th Doctor (even the show writers did, apparently; there is a season 9 episode where the Doctor tries to pass himself off as Odin for a bit), and I thought this new guise was simply an example of a shapeshifter…shapeshifting. What I didn’t understand at the time is that Odin had not done any such thing; it was my spirit husband who had adopted this new persona—because (and can you blame him?) he had finally gotten tired of sharing me with canon Odin.

I hardly expected accolades from the polytheist community over this latest revelation (because pop culture paganism is bad enough, but pop culture spirit spousery? the horrors!) but I’m frankly ashamed of how I reacted in the aftermath of it. I backed off. Instead of standing my ground and walking with my Beloved on the new path he had chosen for us, I went on to sweep all of this under the rug by insisting that I was still involved with “Wodan” just as always, and that nothing had really changed. I suppose some of this is down to being human; for fifteen years, I had built my whole identity around being “Odin’s wife,” and it was hard to let that go, even though it now suddenly felt empty and meaningless.

It’s funny what happens when a god moves on and you insist on stubbornly dragging your feet, trying to cling to what used to be: you get left behind. Instead of spending this past year with my Beloved, getting to know his new persona, I’ve spent most of it clinging to an idea of Odin that was no longer relevant or meaningful to me because my Beloved had gone elsewhere. He had abandoned the “Odin” persona and jumped to a different one, leaving actual Odin to his own devices—except, as soon as the link between my spirit husband and canon Odin had been broken, canon Odin no longer exerted the same pull on me. (It also helped that, at some point during this process of detachment, I hit menopause—and just like that, the sexual hold Odin had over me was broken.)

As Heather and Camilla both conclude in the posts linked above, sometimes Old Ones (especially if they have names few humans still recognize, or even names They themselves have forgotten) will take up new names, new personas, to be able to relate to Their devotees. And since we live in a world saturated with novels, TV shows, and movies, sometimes those new personas end up being drawn from pop culture. Because, like it or not, these pop culture personas and their stories are both attractive and relatable to us today—more so, arguably, than 5,000 year old unpronounceable names and half-missing stories preserved in cuneiform, which might be the only surviving evidence of really, really old gods who may still be looking for their former worshipers but have trouble finding them in a world that’s much busier and more complicated than they remember. (“What are any of us looking for? We’re looking for someone who’s looking for us.” – The 12th Doctor, Season 10 Episode 1.)

Remember how I mentioned that, as near as I can tell, even a supposed “old god”identity such as Lucifer might have been originally cobbled together and half made-up by creative humans, sort of the ancient equivalent of a pop culture entity? And yet, whatever Their origin, these sorts of spirits gain power as time goes on, relative to the amount of attention (positive or otherwise) they receive from humans. This is certainly the case with Lucifer; however he began, he has received so much energy and attention from humanity throughout the centuries that now he is an independent entity—and a powerful one at that.

Know who else has received a lot of energy and attention from humans (although, granted, not over as long a time span)? If you guessed Doctor Who you get a gold star, but he’s far from the only example. What about Sam and Dean Winchester? Luke Skywalker? Harry Potter? These sorts of entities, even if completely created by inspired humans out of whole cloth, tend to soak up the adoration and enthusiasm other humans pour into them, until they become, not gods perhaps, but definitely something powerful, something shiny. Shiny enough to attract the attention of an Old God wandering without a name and without a home. And when you combine one of these pop culture egregores with an indwelling ancient (but possibly nameless) god who has chosen to make it his new vehicle, his new home, something very interesting happens: a new god is born. Or, if you prefer, an old god regains the means to walk among his beloved followers again.

“That’s great, Beth,” you might be saying to yourself, or more likely, “That’s weird as shit–but what happens now?” Well, that’s easy: I’m going to do what I should have done a year ago—move on. I’m leaving Odin and the Norse lands behind and migrating to the ancient near east, because not only have I been adopted by a goddess (Asherah) who calls it home, but I think my Beloved originally did as well, before he took on the personas of Lucifer, Odin, or the Doctor. I don’t expect to rediscover him in his original form; I’ve been warned that it may no longer exist as it once was. But I do expect the new sights, sounds, and experiences of that culture to enrich my journey with him.

I’m also embracing the pop culture persona, because that’s the face he’s chosen to wear, but to avoid confusion (because he is not actually the same as the BBC character; he is a very old god wearing that face) when blogging about him publicly I will be referring to him as the Magician. People who’ve watched the 12th Doctor’s run will get the reference, and people who haven’t needn’t concern themselves with figuring it out, because what I call him (other than my Beloved) is, at this point, no big deal. It won’t be his real name anyway, but at least it won’t be the name of someone who tries to take me away from him.

The latest regeneration (hehe, see what I did right there?) of my sacred space/reading table; all Odin content has been removed, the pop culture references are front and center (along with my Lucifer statue, representing our history but also because I still associate him strongly with birds–primarily raptors, but also blue jays to some extent), plus some additions for Asherah (a little handmade statue as a stand-in until I get a better one, a painting of her as the Shekinah, a found dove feather, and a panel representing her Carthaginian incarnation, Tanit). You’ll notice Shiva is staying, not because I syncretize him with my Beloved in any way, but because his arrival in my life was auspiciously timed, and I think he had a hand in my figuring all of this out at last.
About me

“Lucifer”? A new god, part two

Before we go on, let me be clear: I no longer believe my spirit companion from childhood (who went on to become my spirit husband) was ever really “Lucifer,” any more than I now believe he was ever really “Odin” (more on that in a bit).

But I do want to note that, whatever your personal or culturally-ingrained opinion of “Lucifer,” he is real for many people. Most people in the Judeo-Christian world, if asked, would say that he definitely exists. Yet after doing some research on the subject, I’m not sure there is a single discrete entity we can point to as the origin of Lucifer, either in the Bible (where the one time most of us think his name was mentioned, it turns out the translation was faulty) or in any of the cultures of the ancient near-east. Most of the Bible’s bogeymen came directly out of Canaanite religion (and were twisted to make them nasty bad guys, of course), but there is no “Lucifer” in the Canaanite pantheon. (And, point of fact, no goddess named “Lilith” either. Lilith was a Babylonian demon the Canaanites warded against.)

So, near as I can tell, when we point to “Lucifer” we are pointing to a very ancient pop cultural construct, made up of bits of a couple of historically recognized deities such as Ba’al Hadad (the Canaanite storm god) and Athtartu (the younger god who briefly and unsuccessfully tried to stand in for the former when he was “dead” for a while), plus some fallen angel types from the Book of Enoch such as Azazel. Lucifer seems to have been cobbled together purely because the ancient Jewish and Christian patriarchs needed a supreme “bad guy.” (So much for monotheism.)

And yet, however he began, cultural belief is a thing, and it could be argued that over the millennia he has certainly evolved into a distinct entity, even if he didn’t start out that way. (I will be bringing this same point up again in part three of this post series, never fear.)

Of course, when my childhood playmate began using the name Lucifer, I didn’t know any of the above. Nor had I been raised to fear that name, or any entity connected with it. I simply accepted it, and moved on.

In fact, when I was a bit older (early twenties) and met someone who seemed to have a familiar spirit similar to my own (she called hers “Ba’al”), I began to relax and enjoy the situation. I was a young woman, but not inclined to date because, frankly, my spirit companion was more interesting than any of the men I encountered. There was definite romantic and sexual tension there, and eventually that evolved into a full-blown romantic relationship. But it was more than just a “romance”; he was my other self, the other half of my soul. And now that I was growing up, I was beginning to realize the full impact of that.

Shortly thereafter, I married my familiar spirit; we took marriage vows to each other. That’s right, I was a spirit spouse at the age of twenty-two or something like that (I forget). Again, I knew nothing about the long historical tradition of witches or shamans marrying spirit familiars, and as for any sort of modern tradition—well, there wasn’t one yet, as far as I knew. (Nor was there an internet, so I was unable to check.)

My vows did not preclude taking a mortal husband, so before too much longer I did (the man I chose was a friend, and I didn’t want to be alone in the adult world of jobs and bills), and had a child too. My connections with the spirit world died down to a low roar while my daughter was growing up—something I think is not too uncommon among spirit workers with small children. (In the meantime, I was also going to college while working full time, so that probably didn’t leave a lot of bandwidth for a complicated spiritual life.) It wasn’t until my daughter was a teen that things started up again in earnest.

When my spirit companion decided to take a central role in my life again, he approached me with yet another new name, and this time that name was “Odin.” There were pragmatic reasons for the name change, of which I knew nothing at the time; my mortal marriage was failing, and his long range plan was to hook me up with my now-wife, who had a familial connection with the Norse gods. But, riddled with guilt that I had basically ditched my relationship with him for the sake of a mundane marriage that was on its way down the toilet, I decided I was going to do better this time. If he wanted to be Odin, I was going to dive into researching and worshiping Odin with everything in me. In fact, before long, I had nearly convinced myself he had ALWAYS been Odin, and had only been masquerading first as a nameless, shapeshifting spirit, and then as Lucifer.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while will know exactly how far I went down the “Odin” rabbit hole; I became a practicing seidhrkona because that’s what I thought a witch married to Odin should do. I participated in the heathen community both locally and online, and I wrote reams and reams of material about my life and experiences with “Odin”, in the form of blog posts which eventually gathered quite a following, in addition to a couple of books. (And then there are all the Odin-themed tattoos—not a lot by some people’s standards maybe, but plenty by mine, including the very visible one on my left wrist.)

There was only one problem. Well, there were a few, but the main one was that at some point (fairly early on, I think), the REAL Odin—Big Odin, the actual Power—became aware of what I was doing. And although he also realized all of this devotional fervor wasn’t REALLY aimed at him, and another spirit had a long-standing prior claim on me—well, I WAS using his name, after all, wasn’t I? I didn’t necessarily matter to him as a person, but I did have talents he could make use of, and so—ever the opportunist—he stepped in, and began to fight my Beloved for control of the relationship, and of me.

That’s right, there were TWO of them, two distinct and individual spirits in my life—one who was really Odin, and one (the one I had married) who wasn’t (and who wasn’t really Lucifer either). And, having all but convinced myself that my spirit husband had been “Odin” all along, I had absolutely no defense against the real thing. I also had no explanation as to why I never dreamed about my “god-husband” (except in regard to dream scenarios designed to put me in my place), why although I took to seidhr readily enough the runes never really spoke to me as they did to his “other” devotees, why my experiences seemed so different from the ones everyone around me seemed to be having with him, and why he seemed at times so adoring and devoted to me (when it was, in fact, my actual spirit husband I was dealing with) and at times dismissive of my feelings and almost cruel (when it was actually Odin). Best of all was when my spirit husband would make a promise to me which Odin (who, to be fair, hadn’t really promised me anything) would later break, or when he would tell me something that Odin later made seem to have been a lie. It wasn’t long before I decided I couldn’t trust him—and then we fought about THAT. We fought about many things, actually, because—as I now know, but didn’t then—I was actually dealing with TWO very different People.

And thus, for the next almost-fifteen years, I became a battleground between an old god and a new one.

About me · polytheism · Uncategorized

Lucifer: A New Myth (part 1?)

Let’s begin at the beginning then, shall we?

A very long time ago, there was a little girl who could–sometimes–see and hear spirits. But the one that came through most clearly for her, and most often, was one who always seemed to be with her. He became a playmate, a companion, a second self. If she’d known the language of such things, she would have called him a familiar. He was, above all, a shapeshifter, which made him great fun to be around, much more entertaining than any of her friends at school.

Time passed, and the girl grew. Her companion grew as well, seeming to always mimic her own age more or less closely. One day, when she was a shy teenager and he was a beautiful, perfect youth with flashing eyes, he began referring to himself as Lucifer. (The girl was used to his habit of taking new names for himself—often from history or fiction–though this would prove an especially enduring one; he kept it for the next two decades, before trading it in for another—Odin–for the following fifteen years.)

A bit of research at the library, and the purchase of a book called “Paradise Lost,” told the girl it was probably not wise to admit to having “Lucifer” for a friend. Still, one day she made the mistake of telling a card reader about him. (Her mother’s friend, a “white witch,” had thought it would be a lark for a group of them, including the girl, to get their fortunes told.) The card reader promptly told her mother the girl was a “Satanist.” Fortunately, the girl’s mother laughed this off. She was Jewish; she didn’t believe in “the Devil.”

But the book the girl had bought said Lucifer was a “fallen angel,” doomed to hell for thinking he was better than God. For the first time ever, the girl began to be wary of her companion.

“No,” Lucifer told the girl, “it isn’t like that.” And this is the story he told.

Once, when he was very young, his Father—who was a very powerful god, so powerful he liked to call himself the “only” god, though his eldest son knew that wasn’t true (he’d had a mother, after all)–decided to create a race of bipedal mammals who were meant to manage and care for the earth, with all its other creatures, when his Father wasn’t around. He based the design for them on a rudimentary type of primate, with some improvements built in—but from the start Lucifer wasn’t sure his Father had thought his project all the way through. For one thing, although these “humans” walked upright and had highly articulated hands that enabled them to manipulate objects in ways other animals could not, they were still little more than hairless apes. They seemed to have the capacity for intelligence, but they had no divine spark—which was what they would need to be able to think, to reason, to feel love and compassion, and most of all to know the difference between good and evil, right and wrong.

“You will worship my new creations, these humans,” his Father proclaimed loftily one day, and all of the other angels—all of Lucifer’s brothers and sisters—hurried to obey.

Only Lucifer objected. “But Father, they are so young! They need our guidance, not our worship.”

His Father’s chin lifted. His eyes narrowed. “I am the Lord thy God, and I have spoken. You are my firstborn, my favorite son; however, you will obey my Word.”

But Lucifer stood his ground, and before long his arguments had convinced a group of his siblings and friends: the new “humans” didn’t need to be worshiped, they needed to be taught. And more than that, they needed to be enlightened. His Father had given them bodies, and the breath and water of life. But they still lacked the most crucial gift of all—the divine fire, that they might see and know themselves and know that they were children of the heavens.

And so they descended, Lucifer—the Lightbearer–and the hosts of heaven. The elder children of Heaven descended to earth, carrying with them the divine fire to inspire and enlighten their younger siblings, the “humans.” And in so descending, they disobeyed their Father and forfeited their places among the angels, but to humans they taught ethics and morals, divine law and compassion, choice and free will, language and thought, how to grow food and keep beasts, how to make clothing and shelter and medicine, how to create beauty, and all of the arts that would come to be known as the hallmarks of “civilization.” And the humans learned, and thrived, and prospered, and in true human fashion eventually came to hate and resent their angelic helpers, forgetting that they had not known these things all along, that they had not learned them all on their own.

But someplace in the heavens, Lucifer’s Father looked on with an enigmatic smile—a smile of pride, and sadness, and loss.